Archive for August 29th, 2015

Soft. Softer. Softer still.

What’s in a name?

My cousin said the other day that she liked 君 (jun), word for ruler or lord or gentleman, the word that our names share, because it was more 霸氣,  more domineering, more confident, more more, all those things that a girl might want in her life in this world.

I love that word too, but I don’t know that I want to keep it.

What I thought, but didn’t ask was: what has being hard brought me anyways?

A reputation for being a force of nature. Broken expectations that shattered my love. Ruined health from all the anger and despair I choked down with the notion of being strong. A bitter spirit and a cynical mind. Being thought to be impervious and thus fair game. Simultaneously the person who surprises people with my love of long hair and longer skirts and the person once compared to a declawed kitten.

The thing is, it’s not enough to be hard. It’s not enough to be domineering, arrogant, and unrelenting. Not unless you’re prepared to go all the way, dive off the edge of the world, and declare yourself to be an island unto yourself.

Logic. Reason. Sobriety. All tools that I used to keep myself safe when in actuality I was drowning in denial.

According to the Chinese stars, I carry three tigers, a torch, and three knives; the horoscope for my faults say that I “possess a significant capability for damage”.  Essentially, I’m a walking arsenal, a one-person army. My brother laughed and said that my new nickname should be Godzilla.

The thing is, like I said, it’s one thing to be Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, but it’s another to be Cleombrotus or Napoleon. Or worse, someone who isn’t even noted in the annals. Either you go all the way, or history will sing of someone else.

All of the fortune-tellers that I’ve met have looked at my stars and shook their heads. One of them, more recently, said that my independence and stubbornness was … all right in this day and age. His tone said it all, that it was good that I was born in these times because if I were born in an earlier age, I would have been sent home to my parents in disgrace as a wife discarded for lack of virtue.

I know it.

I look in the mirror and I see a hard woman. An unhappy woman. The lines between my brows. The grooves that bracket my mouth. The downward tilt of my lips in rest. The awkward way a smile sits on my face when it’s not buoyed by genuine mirth.

Ignorance is bliss. I’ve always thought thus, but in the past I would push past it with the thought that if I could not be soft and content in my ignorance, I could persevere, could push past with sheer will and surmount everything that stood in the way of my happiness.

But no.

In my stupidity and youth I made a fatal mistake.

I thought I could be a sword, lethal to obstacles and a sharp tool to gain me what I wanted, what I needed. But I wasn’t. I was a dull chef’s knife, one prone to slipping and cutting into the hand wielding it, inefficient and cursed.

No. I don’t want to be one of those women who use their femininity as a weapon. I don’t want to be demure and resigned either.

However, there has to be a happy medium, one in which I can set aside my constant need for revolution and be content with defending what I want and need.

I don’t want to be a broadsword, nor a needle, but perhaps I can be a soft sword. I’ve always been fond of that (mythical?) weapon and I should have taken a hint from that. Soft enough to be used as a belt when at rest, resilient enough to be wielded as a whip, but capable of driving into stone when infused with will.

The key right now is deciding what I want, what battles I will fight, and what lines are drawn. If nothing else, at least I have the enviable chance of being able to figure that out right now.

There is a poem that goes “ten years I have honed my sword/ never has it been tried/ now I show it to you/ and ask what injustice is there”.

What sword have I honed and what injustice is there?